January 12th, 2009
10:10 AM ET
11 years ago

Bush admits mistakes in his final news conference

Pres. Bush gave his last official press conference Monday morning.

Pres. Bush gave his last official press conference Monday morning.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Addressing reporters in his final news conference before leaving office, President Bush admitted Monday to several mistakes during his tenure in office.

"Clearly putting a 'Mission Accomplished' (banner) on an aircraft carrier was a mistake," Bush said. "It sent the wrong message."

"Obviously," the president continued, "some of my rhetoric has been a mistake."

Bush also said that he should have pursed a comprehensive immigration overhaul after the 2004 election, instead of Social Security reform. Bush argued that Congress did not have the political willpower to tackle Social Security at the time because the program was not facing an "imminent" funding crisis.

Bush defended his widely-criticized decision not to visit Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

Bush said that if he "landed Air Force One in New Orleans or Baton Rouge" shortly after the hurricane, "law enforcement would have been pulled away from the mission." The media, Bush claimed, would have then asked how he could have
"possibly have flown Air Force One into Baton Rouge" when "police officers that
were needed to expedite traffic out of New Orleans were taken off the task to
look after you?"

Bush said he was "disappointed with the tone in Washington" and that he had "tried to do his part" to change the political environment for the better.

But "the rhetoric got out of control," Bush said.

Asked about the federal bailout, Bush said that President-elect Obama has not yet asked him to request the release of the remaining $350 billion in TARP funds.

Bush said he has no intention of doing so unless Obama asks him to do so.

Turning to the the situation in Gaza, the president said that a "sustainable cease-fire" could only be accomplished when "Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel."

Bush said that the "choice is Hamas's to make." He also stated that the best way to get a sustainable cease-fire is to "work with Egypt to stop the smuggling of arms into... Gaza.

"Countries that supply weapons to Hamas have got to stop," Bush said.

Turning to the question of his plans after leaving office, Bush said, "When I get out of here, I'm getting off the stage. I believe there ought to be one person in the klieg lights at a time."

soundoff (258 Responses)
  1. JIM...TX

    NOW Bush admits to making mistakes. Think how his "legacy" might have been much improved if he'd have done this when he screwed up to begin with. It will be a fine day when he's out of the WH!!!

    January 12, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. CanIcallyouJoe

    "Addressing reporters in his final news conference before leaving office, President Bush admitted Monday to several mistakes during his tenure in office."

    I'm sorry – but there are no words within what is possible as a human to express the magnitude of this understatement.

    January 12, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Danny from Phoenix

    I love how he supposedly just now realizes his mistakes. An intelligent individual would have done so minutes after making it. He's scum. I cannot wait for him to leave office.

    January 12, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. MK

    I have always "misunderestimated" him....always will. It is the first news conference I have watched in years, maybe since 2003, and only because it was his LAST! Here's to 1/20/2009!!

    January 12, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. jaye

    I'm glad he had good words for Obama – I actually think he's glad Obama won the election.

    January 12, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. creighton

    He should have to serve time in prison for everything he's done to this country and the rest of the world.
    Go back to Crawford and ride your bike into obscurity.

    January 12, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Brit

    If I hadn't read this on cnn.com, I would have thought the headline was taken from the Onion. "Bush admits mistakes" - how very big of him.

    January 12, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. jim, Middletown, Connecticut

    I suspect that even President Bush's most ardent supporters could identify more – and more substantial – mistakes.

    January 12, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. JIMBISCIELLO

    THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TIME IN ANY NEWS CONFERENCE TO ADMIT ALL OF THE MISTAKES AND CRIMES OF THIS ADMINISTRATION.
    BUSH, CHENEY , ROVE AND RUMSFELD SHOULD BE IN JAIL.

    January 12, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  10. Ken in Dallas

    Out of the klieg lights? How about a stop at the Hague?

    January 12, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  11. Nah.nah..nah..nah..

    Nah.nah..nah..nah..

    HEY, HEY, HEEEYYY....

    GOODBYE!!!!

    January 12, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. Denise

    Ooh now he admits his mistakes. Eight more days after eight dreadful years! Hurry up Jan 20th!

    January 12, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. Marie

    So he won't release any funds until he is told to do so. Sounds like Iraq, he wouldn't invade until Dick Cheney told him to do so, wouldn't visit Louisiana until Karl Rove told him to do so. WOuld someone please tell him to jump off the Empire State Building!!!!

    January 12, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. John

    "Obviously," the president continued, "some of my rhetoric has been a mistake."

    Half? A quarter? Nearly all? Well, it's a start. At least he's finally learning.

    January 12, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. Proud American

    Duh............

    January 12, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  16. rich

    Bush was the biggest mistake in my lifetime, and I'm older than a cow. Figure.

    January 12, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  17. badger

    Bye George and may God Give You What You Really Deserve.

    January 12, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  18. Robin

    Bush bashing to start now.

    Anyway, he had a point about Hurricaine Katrina. Why pull law enforcement away? Plus Nagel knew this was coming. If you build a city in a bowl with substandard levies, this is what happens.

    In 8 days, we have a new president and according to Texas Teacher he will bring world peace,straighten out the economy, and will cure diseases from baldness to cancer by dinner time on his first day. j/k

    All kidding aside, let us get behind our new president and hope we will not turn on him the moment he makes a bad decision. Let's face it, ALL presidents, even the great ones make bad descisions. It is our job as Americans to support him and be united.

    January 12, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. raagos

    WE ALL KNEW WHAT U DID WRONG JUST LEAVE THE OFFICE SOONER PLEASE. ITS GONNA TAKE YEARS TO FIXED ALL PROBLEMS U COST

    January 12, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Bennie

    You didn't care what people thought of you and the direction you took the country the past 7and 3/4 years you have been in office. So why do you care now? Why should we care now?

    January 12, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. Richard

    Typical double-talk from Bush. The problem with Katrina wasn't a token appearance in Louisiana, it was that the most powerful man in the world failed to do ANYTHING. While millions of Americans watched in horror as our fellow Americans pleaded for help on a bridge in a major U.S. city for FOUR DAYS, Bush did NOTHING. All it took was ONE phone call to the Army, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard for our commander-in-chief to say "I want helicopters in there NOW".

    Probably 300 million Americans would have done that if they had the power, but Bush didn't care enough to bother. Worst ever!

    January 12, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  22. carol

    Bush unfortunately is still in a state of denial, he can see nothing really wrong with his administration and that is a sad way for him to leave office.
    History will not treat him kindly as much as he may think it will...he has been an awful President and the reflection of the country bares that out.

    January 12, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  23. Dave

    Hurt our People.
    Hurt our Families.
    Hurt...our Country.
    The Legacy of bush/cheney...

    January 12, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  24. GB

    Worst Ever...

    January 12, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. Get it together Repubs

    Hmmmmm......8 more days and counting.....

    January 12, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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